I Made Up A Fake Venture Capital Firm and You Can Too! AMA about Startups, Sexism In Silicon Valley, and anything funny!

Dre Koval, aka Rick Powers
Jan 12, 2018

Comedy in Silicon Valley can sometimes be rare, and it's tougher if you're a lady. Besides the HBO show of the same name, I don't think there are enough of us poking innocent fun at eachother. This past year, I created a fake Venture Capital firm, called Maybe Capital. The firm is run by Rick Powers, and it's noted on Linked In as The Most Powerful Venture Capital Firm in Silicon Valley. We've pranked our way into conferences, meetings and very important youtube videos. Our first product is Maybe Capital The Board Game, in which you play an investor at Maybe Capital who is attempting to bring their portfolio of startups to Unicorned-IPO status. The main mechanic in the game is picking up pitch cards, like "Bitcoin" for "Coconut Water" and then proceeding to create a company out of thin air and pitch it to the rest of the players. If it's a great pitch, you might get 10 Million Dollars! If it's not such a great pitch, the other board members might politely ask you to get out of their office.

It all started with a Maybe Capital kickstarter, and was also featured in Wired's end-of-the-year-gifts-for-nerds holiday wishlist. Now, we're selling games off of our website, on the internets.

Ask me about startups, fake ventures, and anything funny!

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Conversation (45)

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What was the inspiration of creating such a humurous and educational game as "Maybe Capital"?

Jan 11, 4:31PM EST0

Thanks for your note!

The inspiration comes from my own experiences working in the Silicon Valley tech scene, and the origional intention was to punk the VC scene. In recent times, I'm sure you've seen the growing numbers of sexual harassmnet cases being called out in our area. I wondered what it might feel like to be an entitled white dude, so I created a fake firm and a fake CEO, Rick Powers. Rick now has way more linkedin connections than I do and often gets invited to meetings and pitched to, weekly. (It makes sense in a way - he is the founder of "The Most Powerful Venture Capital Firm in Silicon Valley" ;) I also realized that pitching, public speaking, and your presence is an important component to succeeding in the valley, so the main mechanic of the game is pitching fake companies to the other players, based on cards like "uber" for "coconut water". It's actually great practice for thinking on your feet!

Jan 11, 5:34PM EST0

What is your plan for the distribution process? Are you willing to employ middlemen for that?

Jan 11, 2:55PM EST0

Right now I've done the full distribution process myself - from hiring my friend the designer, to finding a printing facility in China, to shipping back over, to assembling in my friend's garage. In hindsight this was a super labor intensive process and in the future I'll use someone like Shipbob to help with the logistical work.

Jan 11, 5:28PM EST0

How does the principle of this game equate to the real world?

Jan 11, 10:52AM EST0

All of the things you learn in the Maybe Capital board game are applicable to the real game of Silicon Valley - creating and pitching companies, investing, and acheiving your ultimate goal of getting to a cuddle puddle tent at Burning man whilst finding the next trillion dollar app idea.

Jan 11, 1:47PM EST0

Explain briefly what is VC or venture capital? How does one gain from it in the real world?

Jan 11, 6:10AM EST0

Venture Capital is at it's core, knowing how to sell money. Recognizing unicorns, corralling them, and then releasing them to the world are the main components of VC-ing.

Jan 11, 1:48PM EST0
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Can "Maybe Capital" become a good training ground for investors to learn the ropes of the trade?

Jan 10, 4:59PM EST0

Absolutely! Maybe Capital is the #1 training tool in the business. It's a real-time physical VCaaS. Inside you'll learn everything you need about venturing, capitalizing and angeling to the point of nausea!

Jan 10, 8:46PM EST0

How do you think this game will be accepted among businessmen or among investors?

Jan 10, 6:21AM EST0

I've massively insulted many people.

Jan 10, 8:46PM EST0

What kind of budget is involved for the information dissemination activities?

Jan 10, 12:47AM EST0

Dissemination activities are a lot like Assimilation activities. Both need to scale.

Jan 10, 8:47PM EST0

What is the maximum number of players who could play together and what is the maximum time to win the game?

Jan 9, 11:03PM EST0

Up to 7 investors can play at once. It works with 3 people, but it's much more fun with more! The timing depends on how lucky you get. If you get the Elon Musk card, for instance, you can take a space X around the board 10x faster than everyone. If you're unlucky, for instance - you might be outted as a woman - then you might be stopping at every gas station in the valley to recharge your Tesla.

Jan 10, 8:48PM EST0

How does one player win this game? Is the winner determined by counting the amount or the number of play money accumulated?

Jan 9, 10:20PM EST0

To win you either need to bring all of your portfolio companies to Unicorn IPO status by collecting investors and millions of dollars, OR you need to get 50 million dollars and declare the bubble has popped. In either situation, after you win you'll need to make it rain while the other players look up to you and refer to you as The Innovation God.

Jan 10, 8:51PM EST0

This is too funny. Being successful in the past this is a bit far from reality, although maybe Silicon Valley reality.

Jan 12, 11:43AM EST1

What kind of hurdle should a startup be ready to faced? How did you face your own challenges?

Jan 9, 9:11PM EST0

The hardest thing about startups is keeping persistance. I'm pretty convinced that every successful person in Silicon Valley has a healthy relationship with failures and setbacks. That -and getting a good amount of customers quickly. :)

Jan 10, 8:52PM EST0

What is your own experience as a Venture Capitalist? How does this contribute to the discovery of the idea for this game?

Jan 9, 12:37PM EST0

I helped launch the Innovation Lions at Cannes Lions, which involved bringing tech startups, VCs, and large tech companies to engage with the festival in various ways. Through this experience I got to know the rules of the real Silicon Valley and have used that experience as inspiration for my own board game. Maybe Capital is my creative outlet for the sometimes very sexist treatment I received, and I think humor is an important mechanism for us to learn about truth in many ways. One of my favorite quotes is "The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” by Alberto Giacometti 

I've also written about my experience in creating a fake CEO and purposefully as a male, here.

Jan 9, 1:56PM EST1

How long have you been into venture capitalism? What have you earn from this venture?

Jan 9, 9:23AM EST0

The most important thing I've learned is that Disruption Never Ends. You must eat, sleep and breath innovation in order to be successful or even to fail upwards. The dream of Silicon Valley is alive and well in every entreprenuer who cries themselves asleep at night because they haven't yet reached unicorn status. We will get there, though. Together.

Jan 9, 2:01PM EST0

Having started up in the gaming ventures, what else is in store for your company, after Maybe Capital?

Jan 9, 9:06AM EST0

Thanks for your question! If I'm lucky, I would like to turn Maybe Capital into a content company so that I can keep writing and doing satirical comedy.

Jan 9, 1:40PM EST1
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Are all of the brains behind the game, investors themselves? Did you use your own experience in conceptualizing the entire game process?

Jan 9, 7:53AM EST0

Innovation can sometimes be a lonely expedition. Luckily, I have the most powerful and disruptive members of Silicon Valley working on my team. As a thought leader, I was able to get buy-in from some solid investors and I pretty much got the same response everytime: 

"When Maybe Capital asked me to join their board, I said yes immediately. It wasn’t a question for me. If you put 1000% of yourself into life, you’ll get back probably 100% of that, if you’re lucky. And if you give 500% of that 100% to someone else, you’re maximizing that first 1000% by working together. That’s what maybe capital is about. Investing isn’t a game. It’s a way of life, and Maybe Capital knows that."

Jan 9, 2:06PM EST0

How much money was involved in the production and development process? How do you think you can regain that back, plus more?

Jan 9, 6:06AM EST0

I definitey invested my own money and time in the initial iterations and process of making the game, and then I raised 11K on Kickstarter to cover the costs of printing and shipping the games over here from China. I had some great friends who helped with ideas, photos, videos and hosting space for parties. I broke even on the first run and am now looking forward to a profit in the sales that are coming through now.

Jan 9, 1:39PM EST0

Very encouraging. Second try you'll do better I'm sure :)

Jan 12, 12:03PM EST1

Have you formulated marketing strategies, effective enough to tap the right market?

Jan 9, 3:52AM EST0

The game is not only a fun satire, but commentary on the sexism and diversity issues of Silicon Valley. When I've talked to reporters and news outlets, I have made sure that I use the idea of humor as a platform for truth and to explain my feelings on these matters. Because of that, I've tried to market the game as both a fun activity and an interesting art peice. I have a little ways to go, but I'd love to get all of the audience that watches Shark Tank a copy!

Jan 9, 1:36PM EST0

In the area of online gaming, are you willing to convert the physical game into virtual version? How hard could this be?

Jan 8, 10:45PM EST0

I'd loooove to do that, and I have more ideas for even more fun and ridiculous statirical online games. It was actually quite a process to figure out all of the ways to finish a physical board game, get it printed, and figure out how to sell it. Though I'd love to step into online territory, I want to ramp up the physical manifestation first. :) Let me know if you hear of any super eager game designers!

Jan 9, 1:24PM EST0

I have seen this done with Pacman once on youtube, so much fun!

Jan 12, 11:41AM EST1

How many people were brainstorming to finalize the details of the project?

Jan 8, 2:35PM EST0

It was a project between a few friends of mine that are all the "board members" of Maybe Capital. We used to meet for drinks after work and talk about how ridiculous the tech news had been that day. This lead to challenging eachother to pitch new companies to eachother based on 2 random words and soon after I thought, "Hey, this might be a fun game for other people too!" There was a lot of game testing and iterating on the mechanics of the game over about a year. I asked for a lot of advice and hosted a lot of game nights to extract the most fun parts of it. The best advice I got was "If you can slim it down to only the most fun parts, that's when you can stop."

Jan 9, 1:20PM EST1
How hard is it to duplicate the success of Maybe Capital?
Jan 8, 1:59PM EST0

The Success of Maybe Capital will remain exponential, so duplication depends on the speed of time and space at any one moment.

Jan 8, 2:20PM EST0
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